Aviation fights back on new government charges plan.

April 2. 2015

A forum comprising Australia’s leading aviation industry representative groups has demanded that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority tightens its belt, becomes more efficient, and reviews those of its activities that contribute little to aviation safety while imposing new levels of regulation that industry is describing as “botched and unworkable.”

The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) was responding to a CASA draft Cost Recovery Implementation Strategy (CRIS) told the regulator:
“At a time when many aviation industry sectors are suffering a significant economic downturn due to the end of the mining boom, drought in two States and a multi-decade general decline in activity, all parts of the industry have had to tighten their belts and CASA’s regulatory services should not be immune.

“In this environment it is not appropriate for CASA to propose some 90 new charges related to the bungled new [Civil Aviation Safety Regulation] Part 61 for pilot licensing, and to maintain complex bureaucratic systems that fail to deliver efficiency. Industry has concerns about the lack of urgency in reform and denial of the Forsyth report criticisms by a cohort of long term managers within CASA.”

The Forsyth Review received 269 submissions from all facets of aviation, and reported that the three most common issues across all submissions were the regulatory reform program (136); CASA’s inflexible regulatory approach (120); and the need for more promotion of aviation (90).
The Review Panel estimated that the reform program would take at least another five years to complete.” That timeframe of course, would depend on when the reform process actually starts. But even then, the ASRR warns that the program’s founding goals won’t be attained:

The final product of regulatory reform will not meet the aviation community’s needs and will not be consistent with the ICAO principles for plain language, easily understood, safety rules. Nor will the final regulations be harmonised with those of any foreign jurisdiction. The 25-plus year history of regulatory reform has been consuming the industry, and distracting the aviation community from the objective of managing safety in its operations. On this basis, the Panel concludes that continuing along the current path is not in the interests of aviation safety in Australia and that a new approach must be developed for regulatory reform.

The TAAAF is therefore pressing for urgent government intervention to conform with its own cost-saving policies:

“On one side sits the Government’s budget predicament, Government’s red tape reduction plan, the Government direction regarding new regulations having to be cost neutral on industry and the Government’s announced adoption of most of the recommendations of the highly critical Forsyth Aviation Review”.

“Unfortunately, the Minister’s critical letter of expectations to CASA is still missing in action and this needs to be remedied urgently. That letter should include a clear direction for CASA to reduce costs, up to and including a reduction in staff.”

Participants in the Forum ask Deputy Prime Minister Truss to:

• Reject the draft Cost Recovery Implementation Strategy (CRIS)
• Refer CASA to the Government directive that new regulations should be cost neutral
• Refer CASA to the Government policy on red tape reduction
• Direct CASA to implement the Government’s response to the Forsyth Report
• Include a direction in his Letter of Expectations that CASA focus on cost reduction before more cost recovery
• Direct CASA to establish a joint industry/CASA taskforce to review all charges and the efficiency of the systems behind them, with a view to eliminating activities and their accompanying charges where they make no contribution to safety.

TAAAF acknowledges that new CASA Director Mark Skidmore and the revamped Board are clearly engaged and focused on the challenging job at hand. However it warns: “They should make no mistake as to industry’s hostile reception of the CRIS proposal to simply increase charges before an attempt to improve efficiency.”

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About Paul Phelan

Paul Phelan flew for over 50 years in private, charter, corporate and regional aviation, worked in senior management roles with a major regional airline, and retains his license. In parallel he has been writing for Australian and international aviation journals for well over 20 years on all aspects of aviation including aircraft evaluation, flying, industry affairs, infrastructure, manufacture, regulatory affairs, safety, technologies and training. He has won three separate National Aviation Press Club awards for "best technical aviation story of the year."

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